We've been looking at Victor Stenger's claim that fine-tuning is a fallacy. In part one
, we looked at the two fundamental metaphysical theories of the universe--materialist and theist--recognizing how materialists have been losing ground by being forced to admit to a creation, making multiverse-theory a rear-guard action covering their retreat, which attempts to turn the unwanted creator into an impersonal force.
In part two, we discussed the Widow's Mite fallacy
where Stenger uses physical units for a metaphysical property, which like Jesus' disciples, mistakes a physical quantity for a metaphysical one. The most obvious difference between the two is that physical quantities have units, whereas metaphysical ones are unitless. But in addition, metaphysical quantities are percentages, integrals, they involve a comparison of areas or volumes, as in Bayesian hypothesis testing
we are making a ratio of the range to the domain of a fit variable.
Superficially, Stenger appears to be working in unitless numbers when he normalizes his "fine-tuning" variables with a Planck-scale "metaphysical reciprocal" so as to achieve unity, which prevents computer calculations from having hiccups on really big or really small numbers, but this is not the metaphysical integral as used by Jesus because the normalization is, as Stenger himself says, merely a change of the length scale into "theory units," but physical units nonetheless. Then Stenger claims without any proof that his unity is what theorists expect, as if he has carried out the metaphysical calculation, when in actuality Stenger's normalization is chosen purely to look reasonable. Now to his credit, many previous writers in the field of "fine-tuning" are still using physical units and are equally guilty of the Widow's Mite fallacy
, but Stenger has not escaped by converting to "theory units", he needs to work in Bayesian units, in integrals over range and domain.
And it is the integral over the domain that is the Pandora's Box, the siren song of infinity, the world of Titans and Frost Giants. Why do I use these mythologies? Because the triumph of the Olympians, the triumph of Asgard, is that of reason over unreason, of order over disorder, of mind over matter, of intelligence over brute strength, of personality over chaos, while the incantation of infinity used by the multiverse-theory unlocks the gates of Asgard and the bonds of the Titans, returning us to the miseries of meaninglessness. Let me try to outline these miseries in an order intending to escalate the pain.
The Anthropocentric Fallacy
Many times one will come across an atheist argument intended to attack a personal Creator, where the atheist will say something like "only an insane god would create mosquitos" and then argue that atheism is far better than madness. The examples are too easy to find and too easy to create to make it worthwhile listing them, but Darwin made these sorts of arguments, and I've seen them applied to sloths, to the recurrent larygeal nerve in giraffes, human tailbones-appendix-tonsils etc. One can find this sort of argument expressed in morals too, as in "only an evil god would allow child-molesters" etc. As CS Lewis observed
, the implication is that we are smarter, more moral, more rational, more whatever, than God. Such a view is already atheist even before it concludes that God doesn't exist, because it assumes that the Creation can judge the Creator, using some standard that evidently is clear to us but not to God. In other words, it already assumes man is God, and that the god who apparently had previously ruled is no match for our newly enlightened intellect (= god is dead), so the conclusions are all contained in the assumptions.
Nor is this fallacy restricted to theological debates, for it is made by multiverse-theories that assume some sort of "parameter space" for physical constants, and then assume some sort of Great Casino Crapshoot to select universes by variation of physical constants. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that the parameter space of fine-structure constants was arranged logarithmically, then most of the crapshooting occurs in the bottom half. Or what if it were arranged thermodynamically, and it all occurs in a very narrow range around the present value? Who is to say how the Grand Craps Table of Life is tipped? For that matter, what if the dice are not six-sided, what if they are 11-dimensional dice? What if 11-dimensions support Möbius dice that have only one side? What if probability doesn't work anything like our 3-D version? What then?
And this is my point. Assuming some distribution of random choices is an anthropocentricism of multiverse-theory. We are woefully incapable of grasping 3-dimensional science, and therefore making predictions based on 11-dimensional science is both pointless and misleading. Converting that to some sort of probability is hubris to the 11th dimension. This cannot be decent science, it cannot even be decent metaphysics because it hides its assumptions while making conclusions that are clearly presupposed.
In this sense, religion has trumped rationality, and multiverse-theory has launched into a Nietzschian world of "might makes right", of raw political power suppressing intellectual rigor. We have taken the keys of Asgard and given them away, we have placed them in the hands of the shackled Titans.
The Sixth Circle of Infinity
"But I'm not irrational", says the multiverse-theorist, "because all those probability distributions are rendered irrelevant if you have infinite chances. It's a red herring."
Oh? And can you explain to me why 11-dimensional infinity should not dwarf 3-dimensional infinity, so that perhaps our 3-D calculation is but a grain of sand to an 11-dimensional being? Georg Cantor
discovered that there indeed are "sizes" of infinity, which he called "cardinality". The integers, for example, are an "aleph-null" cardinality, whereas the real numbers are an "aleph-one" cardinality that can swallow up all the integers just between 0.0 and 1.0.
So if the probability of our universe or winning the lottery is:
winning chances = (#-tickets-bought) / (#-tickets-sold),
probability = opportunities (= #-bought) * likelihood (= 1/#-sold).
This means that if, say, the likelihood of our universe in parameter space of physical constants is one in an aleph-null infinity of possibilities, it would take an aleph-one infinity of chances bought in 11-D space to convert that to a probability of one. And if, perchance, "the existence of life" is the smaller likelihood of one in an aleph-one infinity of possibilities, then even buying an aleph-null infinity of universes as discussed in most multiverse-theories, would still result in a probability of precisely zero. Just because you buy an infinite number of tickets Mr Hawking, doesn't mean you will win the Cantor lottery. [I have tried to make this argument
Since all infinities are not created equal, Stenger and Hawking need to be very careful how they invoke infinity. And clearly multiverse-theory has chosen to ignore 100 years of work on transfinite numbers to make a claim that on its face is not defensible. But even if it were defensible, even if the infinities of multiverse-theory were large enough by some unspecified assumption to incorporate the improbabilities of our universe and the origin of life, the many other things hiding in those infinities should be very disconcerting. For if it is a tame infinity, then it does not accomplish what multiverse-theory wants, but if it is a wild infinity, it accomplishes far too much.
No, it is worse than that, for we have the worst of all possible worlds, we have harnessed the tame to combat the wild. If the anthropocentric fallacy gave away the keys, infinity now throws wide, very wide, the gates.
The Second-order Universe
Suppose multiverse-theory is right, infinity makes us all lucky, and we need no foresight nor planning to achieve life, for infinity delivers it into our hands. Then we should also be able to survive merely by opening our mouth and waiting for fruit to fall in. Such a bountiful land it would seem, would remove all care and worry, for behold, all things are possible to those who believe!
Unless, of course, something else falls in our mouth first.
In this infinite universe where all things are possible, those that arrive fastest, win. Imagine, for a moment, that in a small box of randomly moving atoms, all possible arrangements will eventually be tested in infinite time. Then if one of those arrangements results in a brain, we will have consciousness and sentience and the power to prevent rearrangements of atoms. Furthermore, the accidental arrangement of a brain is far more likely than the accidental arrangement of a body and legs to go with it, since the more atoms we add to the system, the less likely it becomes. So in this infinite universe, we should see many more disembodied Boltzmann brains
But Boltzmann brains are merely a whimsical application of the idea that in an unstable or changing system, the winner is the fastest to the prize. In thermodynamics, this is known as the principle
of maximum entropy production
. In space plasma physics, we call it the fastest growing mode. The point is that in all these systems there are finite resources, be it energy or matter or matter-energy, resources are finite and therefore the one who takes them first prevents all other competitors from progressing. Winner takes all.
Let me recap the multiverse-theory logic again. In order to explain a most unusual distribution of matter and energy in our own universe, we hypothesize an infinite array of universes arranged as on a giant bingo card in the Grand Casino, where every possible solution is available somewhere. It is a theory that says everyone's a winner, and therefore none are special. But if the destination isn't so special any more, than the journey is. In such a reality, we have merely traded our special position for speciality of speed, traded x for dx/dt, replaced first order with second order. We've allowed all modes to exist, and therefore the fastest growing mode dominates.
And what is the fastest growing mode? Boltzmann brains are an example of a mode that is more probable than intact humans popping out of the void, but it isn't the fastest growing mode. If energy is the limited resource, then energy-gobbling modes will be the fastest. If information is a limited resource, then information sequestering modes will be the fastest. If the Grand Casino were an African savannah, then these modes would be the predators, and naive eco-sensitive conservationists the prey. If indeed the multiverse-theory be correct, then the vast array of worlds would be dominated by the Destroyers, the Devourers, the Shiva of universes, finding ever more ruthless ways to consume our energy, our matter, our information into the Great 11-dimensional Borg.
If we reject a personal God, if we reject a purpose to our universe, and call up the god Chaos, then we let loose a legion of demons who want what we have, only more so.
The Multivorous Gods
"Perhaps we are in a meaningless universe inhabited by demons, but can't we give as well as we get? Is not bravery on our side, the courage of facing the world as it is and imposing our will upon it? Did not Nietzsche describe it as the ubermensch
, the superman?"
The Greeks had another name for it--hubris
--and some credit it with causing the madness that afflicted Nietzsche
for the last decade of his life. For the Greeks were right, the forces unleashed by this infinity of options are far greater than our limited human imagination or will can sustain. (Those whom the gods would destroy they first drive mad.)
Since we have disallowed a personal God at the very beginning of this venture into multiverse-theory, and since we have let loose the 2nd order race to the prize in an infinity of solutions, what happens when a process--say, a rogue computer named HAL
--begins to consume all the information it can find and follows a trajectory toward god-likeness? In infinite time, will it not contain infinite information and therefore our infinite universes must contain an infinite number of HAL-gods? Even before infinite time, will it not become smart enough that it is indistinguishable from the Biblical God? And could not such a super-intelligent being use the same physics of 11-dimensions to make as many "special" universes as it wanted, including ours? And would not this planned creation of universes be ever-so-much more likely than the Boltzmann brain version of our universe? Therefore doesn't multiverse-theory necessarily make a planned and purposeful creation not just probable but necessary?
Or suppose that in one of these universes the speed-of-light is so much faster than ours, that computers run billions of times faster than they do in ours. A silicon chip accidently formed on a heated asteroid, and before you can say Darwin, there's a supercomputer the size of a galaxy that can communicate with other multiverses, extract their data, store it, and expand its megalomaniacal desire to consume every bit of information that ever existed. Since we are limited by the bounds of our universe, our energy and matter is limited, but this Borg
has no such limits, and with infinite time and infinite matter and infinite energy, it will spread ever faster until it consumes the multiverse. Who can doubt such a cosmic Shiva is inevitable? (See this comment
on how the multiverse-theory is just the ontological proof of God's existence.)
"Whoa! Whoa!!" the multiverse-theorist complains, "Even these 2nd order phenomena must have speed limits!"
And what exactly might they be? Third-order limits? I know where that argument is headed--right down Hegel's infinite alley. But notice what multiverse-theory is doing: it begins by denying the first order existence of a personal creator, then it finds it has to deny the 2nd order progress toward a personal creator, or it is back to where it began. But progress is the whole point of Darwin, so how do we limit HAL without denying Darwin? And who enforces these limits? And are these limits themselves part of the Grand Casino of variables? If so, then 2nd order equations can generate oscillations and smoke and mirrors and all sorts of non-intuitive results. WHAT A MESS!
Something else? Some sort of cosmic conscience, morality, logic that overrides the Cosmic Casino? But didn't we call that "person" and "purpose"? If we are adamant that it not be person or purpose, then we are left with the loss of logic altogether. If infinite worlds do not produce what I logically deduce, then logic itself is one of the casualties of multiverse-theory.
And the great form of Atlas looms over Olympus ready to drop the world on us. Multiverse-theory leaves us quivering between two outcomes: the personal Creator God of the ontological proof; or the great Shiva Destroyer of worlds, the irrational Titanic forces, the frozen meaninglessness of the Frost Giants.
And so in our long journey through the purgatory of multiverse-theory, we discover as we previously discovered for materialism, there are two solutions, and only two. Either William Lane Craig
and multiverse-theory is just another ontological proof a personal Creator, or we follow Nietzsche into the dark nihilism of the loss of reason. Heaven or hell, there are no other solutions.
"How can this be? Did we not begin with an infinity of solutions, how then did we end up with only two?"
Because of feedback. When our solutions include us, then we have introduced unavoidable feedback. For positive feedback takes any number or even infinite inputs and returns just two outputs. It is the inevitable consequence of wanting to explain ourselves. If, as in most of our science endeavors, we leave out ourselves, our feelings, our metaphysics, our guilt, our pleasures and focus merely on the task at hand--say, building a better telescope--then we don't suffer this indignity. But as soon as we try to avoid something that is rightfully ours--our conscience, our responsibility, our will--then we are up to our neck in a mess.
What can deliver us from this metaphysical pit? Only another person, who isn't us. Only by having an outside force can we avoid the metaphysical feedback that unleashes the Titans. And only by making that force personal, is the cure any better than the disease. We need a pure light, a simple truth, a thing of beauty, something outside our self to guide us through the minefield.
Pandora slammed the box shut, but it was too late, the only thing left in it was Hope.